When you think of bad lunches, you might think of the meatloaf surprise in the cafeteria. However, I am referring to the lunches that parents or guardians pack for their kids on a daily basis. According to a Philly.com article, titled: “Healthier choices for your child’s lunch box”, “many parents are packing the real easy, processed meals”.
I tend to be in agreement with the statement above from Nyree Dardarian MS, RD, LDN. When I was a child in elementary school and middle school, high-sodium, pre-packaged lunches, such as Oscar Meyer’s Lunchables and ham and cheese sandwiches on white bread were often in my lunch bag. In addition, sugary drinks, such as juice boxes, were another favorite of mine, so it was easy to get into the habit of eating poorly. However, there are ways for a parent to help their child eat better at lunchtime.
My first suggestion is to pack them some protein. Turkey lunch meat is a favorite of mine as it is lean and the sodium content is lower than other lunch meat choices, such as bologna and ham. If a parent is to pack their child a turkey sandwich, I suggest using some type of whole wheat bread or even rye, but worst-case-scenario, make sure that the bread says whole grain on it even if it is of the white variety.
Many children are a sucker for sweets, but Nyree Dardarian says “you can’t just replace cookies with rice cakes”. I have found that packing a piece of fresh fruit, such as an apple or a banana can help to settle a sweet tooth, so parents should be sure to pack some fruit in their child’s lunch bag. In addition, Dardarian also mentions that there are good benefits that apples offer in terms of children’s teeth. She says that “crunchy fruits, such as apples help to dislodge foods stuck on their chompers”.
One final food for thought, parents should pack baby carrot’s in their child’s lunch bag. They are bite-size, help to fill you up and low in calories. It’s a win, win and big win if a parent can get their child to eat vegetables. They go well with peanut butter too if you can find a place to keep the peanut butter in the lunch bag.
Speaking from experience, (I was a child not too long ago), it can be difficult to convince a child to eat healthier, but when parents choose the right foods I believe that it will yield tremendous health benefits for their children as they grow into their adult years, such as maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure.